Robotic Assistance Confers Ambidexterity to Laparoscopic Surgeons

Souzana Choussein, Serene S. Srouji, Leslie V. Farland, Ashley Wietsma, Stacey A. Missmer, Michael Hollis, Richard N. Yu, Charles N. Pozner, Antonio R. Gargiulo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Study Objective To examine whether a robotic surgical platform can complement the fine motor skills of the nondominant hand, compensating for the innate difference in dexterity between surgeon's hands, thereby conferring virtual ambidexterity. Design Crossover intervention study (Canadian Task Force classification II-1). Setting Centers for medical simulation in 2 tertiary care hospitals of Harvard Medical School. Participants Three groups of subjects were included: (1) surgical novices (medical graduates with no robotic/laparoscopic experience); (2) surgeons in training (postgraduate year 3–4 residents and fellows with intermediate robotic and laparoscopic experience); and (3) advanced surgeons (attending surgeons with extensive robotic and laparoscopic experience). Interventions Each study group completed 3 dry laboratory exercises based on exercises included in the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) curriculum. Each exercise was completed 4 times: using the dominant and nondominant hands, on a standard laparoscopic FLS box trainer, and in a robotic dry laboratory setup. Participants were randomized to the handedness and setting order in which they tackled the tasks. Measurements and Main Results Performance was primarily measured as time to completion, with adjustments based on errors. Means of performance for the dominant versus nondominant hand for each task were calculated and compared using repeated-measures analysis of variance. A total of 36 subjects were enrolled (12 per group). In the laparoscopic setting, the mean overall time to completion of all 3 tasks with the dominant hand differed significantly from that with the nondominant hand (439.4 seconds vs 568.4 seconds; p =.0008). The between-hand performance difference was nullified with the robotic system (374.4 seconds vs 399.7 seconds; p =.48). The evaluation of performance for each individual task also revealed a statistically significant disparate performance between hands for all 3 tasks when the laparoscopic approach was used (p =.003,.02, and.01, respectively); however, no between-hand difference was observed when the tasks were performed robotically. On analysis across the 3 surgeon experience groups, the performance advantage of robotic technology remained significant for the surgical novice and intermediate-level experience groups. Conclusion Robot-assisted laparoscopy may eliminate the operative handedness observed in conventional laparoscopy, allowing for virtual ambidexterity. This ergonomic advantage is particularly evident in surgical trainees. Virtual ambidexterity may represent an additional aspect of surgical robotics that facilitates mastery of minimally invasive skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • Ambidexterity
  • Intraoperative handedness
  • Laparoscopic surgery
  • Robotic surgery
  • daVinci Surgical System

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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